Questions tagged [connotation]

For questions regarding the associated or underlying meaning of a word, in addition to its primary definition.

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Does the term “abusive” connote intent?

When applied to an individual, does the term "abusive" imply that the individual harbors malicious intent? Similarly, if applied to an action, does "abusive" infer that the individual who performed ...
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“Buy the farm” meaning

In Alice Cooper’s song “Hey Stoopid” from his 1991 album, there is a verse that runs like this: Now I know you’ve been kicked around. You ain’t alone in this ugly town. You stick a needle ...
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Connotation of “to expatiate”

Only the online Cambridge dictionary marks the verb “to expatiate” as ‘formal disapproving’. Nowhere else could I find the reference to a ‘disapproving’ connotation, although all the online ...
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Referring to my husband as my son's dad?

I received an invitation for a session at my son's (John) school. The teacher had asked us to confirm our attendance for the event. I wrote the following John's Dad and I will be attending the ...
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Connotation of “significant” or “considerable”

I know that they are interchangeable and mean nearly the same. But which of them has a stronger connotation in emphasizing the extent or importance more than the other? Or are they on the same level?
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What degree of status does the label “office lady” imply?

I'm wondering whether or not "office lady" is commonly used in English-speaking countries? Does it carry a derogatory sense or stereotype women's jobs like "pink-collar worker" does?
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Does “having” something imply the possession of it?

I'm seriously pained when I hear the word "have" being used in the present continuous to imply possession. Take for example, the following quotation from Wordsmith.org. Read the Etymology of the ...
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Does “You flatter me” have negative connotations?

I always thought that "You flatter me" is just a way of remaining modest when responding to a compliment, as if to say "I'm pleased you think that, although I think you're being too kind". But I've ...
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What is a “Cornucopian government”?

The following excerpt is taken from a best-selling vocabulary workbook: Check your English Vocabulary for IELTS page 52, Q7. The Cornucopian government made this sudden decision to dissuade / ...
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Is 'amenable' a derogatory description of a person?

I'm asking someone for a reference letter, and almost used the word amenable. Looked it up, and definitely hesitated when the definition was "easily persuaded or controlled". I would like to list you ...
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Felicitated- pragmatics and connotations

This sentence from a major Indian daily amused me: The mother of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) constable, who died in the line of duty in Jammu and Kashmir, was felicitated at the 65th ...
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connotations of the word 'demure'

The official definition of demure is: "reserved, modest, and shy." But does it also imply submissiveness?
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Connotation of “complacence”

What is the connotation of complacence? Is it a negative trait? The dictionary makes it seem like a positive attribute.
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Does using “diminish” instead of “reduce” place an emphasis on the process of reduction?

I have an essay assignment and the prompt looks like this: Without application in reality, the value of scientific findings is greatly diminished. My teacher insists that the use of "diminished" ...
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Connotation of term autodidact

I would like to know if autodidact has a positive, negative, or neutral connotation behind it. These questions asking about usage imply: A neutral connotation: Autodidactic as a Verb What would ...
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“Motherland” vs. “fatherland”

What are the different connotations of motherland and fatherland? NOAD defines both as "a person's native country," though it adds "esp. when referred to in patriotic terms" for fatherland. The words, ...
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How is the word “self-conceited” different from “narcissistic”?

According to vocabulary.com, the word "Conceited" is defined as: A conceited person has an inflated self-image and perceives himself as incredibly entertaining and wonderful. Talk incessantly about ...
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More precise word or phrase for neutral connotation of racism

Racism in the dictionary means a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own ...
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What do you think when these words come up: “populace”, “population”, “people”, the “mass”, the “public” [closed]

When would be the best usage of those words? When do we do/don't use it? What is the message conveyed when we use Populace/Population; People/Mass; Mass/Public? 1.Populace vs Population 2.People vs ...
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Don't you do this vs Don't do this

Could anyone clarify, please, what the difference between these two sentences is? I heard an American woman say to her child: "Don't you do this!"
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Do meteorites really land on Earth, or did the interviewee mean that ironically? [closed]

Technically speaking, landing is coming to rest after making contact with the ground. Yes, but isn't it supposed to be smooth rather than violent? Ships land, as do planes, drones, and skydivers....
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Can the word “dehydration” imply “thirsty”? [closed]

As far as I know, dehydration means the condition of a body from which the water has been removed. Can the same word imply that the body is thirsty? Simply put, is "I am thirsty" the same as "I am ...
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Synonym for “godchild” without religious connotation

In English is there a synonym for "godchild" (or the gender-specific versions) without a religious connotation but without necessarily having other specific connotations? All the words I'm coming up ...
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Is “adorable” used to describe an adult?

I've heard adorable sometimes used for kids. Is it ever used to describe an adult?
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Is the connotation of “naughty” always sexual?

Does the word "naughty" always have a sexual connotation if it is used between adults? I'd like to use it in a notification-text of a smartphone app, e.g.: No naughty apps selected, where it's ...
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Is the word “classless” neutral in its implication, or does it have a derogatory tone?

I was drawn to the word, “classless” in Carolyn Hax’s answer to a reader in the counseling corner of Washington Post (June 7), which comes under the title, “How do you get back at a loudmouth? By ...
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Ebb - is it right to say “ebb toward”, or does this word have negative connotations

"[company name] is a company of specialists who ebb toward new and innovative technologies.." I'd like to use the word ebb in the above sentence, although the dictionary tells me that it has negative ...
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Is “lynch” considered a racist word?

Let's say that for example, people thought Chris was a bad person and he killed many people. A group of people vote for Chris to be lynched. Race has absolutely nothing to do with this; it's because ...
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What does the expression “to add another dimension to the situation” mean?

Does the expression "to add another dimension to the situation" imply that the situation has become more complex? In Arabic we would say something like "adds another dimension to the situation that ...
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Poetic technique for taking a usually comforting thing in a scary context?

Poetic technique for taking a usually comforting thing in a scary context? Context: I was wondering what the name of the poetic technique was, where one takes something which is usually light, ...
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The phrase “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation [closed]

Is the following statement correct? “I'm coming” has some strong sexual connotation There are some guys who propose to avoid this phrase without destination. Usecase: a comment under Facebook ...
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Does “intellectual gymnastics” always have a negative connotation?

As far as I know, “intellectual gymnastics” is used in a negative sense. For example, the discipline of philosophy can be belittled as “intellectual gymnastics”. However, a university in Japan seems ...
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I am afraid I look servile when I say “please” [closed]

In Korea, when I say "please", others think that I am servile. In English, do I look servile when I use "please" in conversation? I want to know the intensity of the word "please" in servility.
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How acceptable is “asinine”

The relation between asinine and ass is pretty apparent, and I know that ass isn't a very acceptable word, but is asinine? If it were used in an essay for school or during discussion would it be ...
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“Tomboy” but in reverse

The word "tomboy" is used to express the idea of a girl who behaves in a boyish manner. It's not usually considered a negative term, or at least not very negative, and generally just means the girl ...
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How to call attention to “I” without “I myself” or the pretentious “even I”?

I find that in persuasive conversation, whether written or oral, it is sometimes useful to draw attention to the "I" in the sentence, giving the connotation that you are confessing or conceding to ...
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Does the word ‘hard-boiled’ have a positive connotation?

Upon a quick google search 'hard-boiled' means tough and cynical even though it doesn't say that this is a disapproving term. One of the synonyms of this word is 'hardened' which means 'very ...
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Connotations: “sanguine” vs “sanguinary”

I broadened this question after encountering sanguinary. 1. sanguine: optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation: 2. sanguinary {archaic}: involving or ...
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What is the nuance of ‘Slipping’ when you say ‘I started slipping my classes short writing assignments?’

I found an op-ed article titled ‘Teaching to the Text’ in today’s New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/opinion/20selsberg.) interesting as a non-native English learner. However, I stumbled on a ...
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What are the connotations of “clueless”?

As a result of a discussion with @Hot Licks on another post, it is apparent that his (American) understanding of the nuances associated with clueless is slightly different to my (British) ...
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What are the connotations of a “foot-washing baptist”? [closed]

In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, the foot-washing baptists seem to be painted by Miss Maudie to be evil and to have a strict adherence to the "cleanliness of the soul." When Scout asks Miss ...
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Must an “accident” evolve from human error?

I've been censured for calling the nuclear plant incident in Japan a "nuclear accident". I've never exclusively reserved the word accident only for those things which evolve from or are precipitated ...
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The use of “male”/“female” (instead of e.g. “man”/“woman”) in everyday speech

In contemporary English, the terms "male" and "female" seem to be almost as commonly applied to people as "man" and "woman". For example, I see people posting questions on certain StackExchange sites ...
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Single word for a synonym with opposite connotation?

Is there a single word to describe a word that has the same literal meaning, but is opposite in connotation to another word? In other words, what is to connotation as antonym is to denotation? To ...
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What does “talk to the hand” mean?

I saw the phrase "talk to the hand" on many funny stickers which seems like expressing the idea that you want to stop the topic or conversation which you feel uncomfortable or not interested in. But ...
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Do readers think of the word “ejaculate” beyond its common sexual meaning? [closed]

I am an editor, and a poet whom I work with has included the expression "I ejaculated little prayers" in one of his stanzas, which we all know has the dictionary meaning of "intensely calling out." ...
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Is there a difference between “less ambiguous” and “more unambiguous”?

Relevant examples: If you make the following changes your sentence will be less ambiguous. If you make the following changes your sentence will be more unambiguous. Do these sentences have a ...
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Why is “feminism” good but “racism” and other “-isms” bad? [closed]

Feminism is generally seen as a good thing. It means something or other about achieving equality of the sexes; of treating people of different sexes the same or as well as each other. Racism is ...
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Does 'fall in with' always have a negative connotation?

Often people say, he fell in with a bad crowd, meaning that the person happened to form relationships with an undesirable peer group or group of people. Does the term 'fall in with' always have ...
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Why the use of 'clock' in the following sentence?

"Bob clocked Joe right in the nose." In this sentence, "clocked" indicates that Bob punched Joe directly in Joe's nose. How did 'clock' come to be used in such a way? Is it colloquial/vernacular to ...

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